The Master

Chicago Critics Awards (Along with San Francisco, Kansas City, and Detroit)

On Monday, film critics in the Windy City announced the winners of their year-end awards in film. As you might've guessed, the top prize went to Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty. Finally unspooling in theaters in select cities this Wednesday, Bigelow's acclaimed new film won five awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Another big winner with Chicago critics was Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, which took home four awards including both supporting acting awards (for Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams), Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score. 

On the West Coast, The Master was awarded its first Best Film prize with the San Francisco Critics Circle. Not only is the recognition deserved, but it's fitting given that Anderson's film was shot in the Bay Area. Along with the top prize, the film won the Best Actor award for Joaquin Phoenix's performance. For more results: Kansas City and Detroit

The Best Film Criticism of 2012

As much as we love to read our favorite critics talk about their favorite films of the year, the critics themselves deserve recognition for their exhaustive, high-quality work throughout the year. Luckily, Matt Singer at Criticwire put together a list for his weekly Criticwire Survey, which asked various film critics about their favorite pieces of film criticism this year. The poll evidences not only the wide-range of quality critics working today, but also the varied subject matters that were deftly handled by some of today's best journalists.

One of the few pieces to be mentioned repeatedly in the survey comes from one of our own! Several fellow critics chose Kent Jones' marvelous review of The Master, written for Film Comment, titled 'Battlefield America.” The fantastic dissection of one of the year's most puzzling films can be read here.

Kleber Mendonça Filho's Neighboring Sounds 

The New York Times on the Year in Film

This past weekend, the co-chief film critics of The New York Times, A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis, revealed their picks for the best films of 2012 along with their thoughts on the year in film. Both Dargis and Scott point to the importance of acclaimed, Hollywood-made films such as Lincoln and Argo, with Dargis focusing in on the desire simply for “smart films,” as evidenced by the previously mentioned titles along with more independent, auteur-driven fare such as Moonrise Kingdom and The Master. “Today’s corporate cinema is reflective of its moment, but so are movies like The Master,” writes Dargis, “which speaks to a fundamental human yearning for meaning in a story that is specifically American. I love old Hollywood, but Louis B. Mayer would never have made The Master and neither would any other studio boss of his era.”

As for their favorite films of the year, Dargis and Scott seem to agree on Amour (NYFF '12), The Gatekeepers (NYFF '12), This Is Not a Film (NYFF '11), and Zero Dark Thirty. Some welcomed inclusions are ND/NF alum and Film Society New Release Neighboring Sounds (A.O. Scott's 9th favorite pick), and NYFF '11 Main Slate Selection Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, a favorite of Dargis'. 

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Fetes Almodóvar in London

Writing for his blog, In Contention, Guy Lodge let us in on what seems to be a fantastic tribute to Pedro Almodóvar. Few modern filmmakers, if any, have gathered the worldwide following that Almodóvar has over his 30-year career. Collaborators and fellow filmmakers attested to that fact, with guest speakers including Almodóvar's younger brother and longtime producer, Agustin, British filmmakers such as Sally Potter, and even a pre-recorded message from Quentin Tarantino. Speaking for himself, the celebrated Spanish auteur described his career as “an anthology of frustration: I've been a frustrated actor, a failed musician, a failed architect, a failed sex symbol.”

Martha Shane & Lana Wilson's After Tiller

Chicken & Egg Documentary Grants

Chicken & Egg Pictures, the nonprofit film fund dedicated to supporting women documentary filmmakers, today announced $220,000 in grants to 25 emerging and veteran filmmakers. Three films fortunate enough to receive these grants—After Tiller, The Square, and Valentine Road—will have their world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival next month. Read the full announcement here.